Need more financial aid from your dream college? Here are 3 ways to get additional money.
It’s college acceptance letter time. Mid March to April 1 is typically when most high school seniors are notified whether they got into college — and how much financial aid they’ve been offered, if any. It can be stressful, especially if you didn’t get as much financial aid as you need.
But it turns out you may be leaving money on the table. Here are the three major ways you can make your case to get more aid — and how to do it.
1. Show that your financial situation has changed.
The easiest way to negotiate more financial aid for college, Peeler said, is by making the case that your financial situation has shifted since you filled out initial paperwork.
“The FAFSA is based on your tax returns. It’s just a moment in time, but shit happens during the year,” Kelly Peeler, founder of NextGenVest, a startup that helps seniors navigate the financial path to college, said. “Say your parents had medical bills because there was an accident, or your mom who is the breadwinner lost her job. That would dramatically change the income, which would affect your financial aid package.”
If that’s the case for you, the first thing to do is update your forms. Then, write an appeal letter — typically less than a page, addressed to the college’s financial aid office — outlining how your financial situation has changed.
2. Play to a college’s competitive streak.
If you’re in the same financial shape as you were when you applied to college, you still might be able to get more money, Peeler said — particularly if your school of choice really wants you to attend. Since colleges often see regional schools as their main competition, Peeler explained, you can write to the college and tell them you’ve got other options in the area.
“If you got into Boston University, Boston College and Northeastern, but Northeastern gave you more money,” Peeler said, “you should go back to [the other two] and say you’d rather go there but that you got more money elsewhere.”
3. Circle back for leftovers.
A final tactic you can try is following up with a school once they have a better idea of who’s actually coming. The best time to do this, Peeler said, is right after the deposit’s due.
“When a university gets all of their deposits for their first tuition payments, they have a better idea of who is actually attending,” she said. “Sometimes the enrollment numbers are lower than they expected.” READ MORE